On this page I would like to give my reasoning and psychology behind the decisions I make about each project and the concept as a whole. My biggest pet peeve when checking out other fantasy projects is how they populate an album with tracks that cover a wide timeline, sometimes as much as three or more years. Other compilers seem to have an unnatural love for double albums.
When I decided to do this full on I felt I needed some sort of structure to help keep things believable. One of the things I wanted to avoid was messing with some of the classic milestone albums like John's Imagine album or Paul's Band On The Run. I wanted to treat the '70s as a new phase in their career and let the lads mature as solo artists as well as carry on the legacy of The Beatles. I also wanted to avoid trying to recompile every song onto a Beatles album because quite frankly not every song they released as solo artists was Beatles worthy.
These are the rules I apply to a project. These are not written in stone but I have not needed to break any yet.
1. All songs on any given album must have been written, recorded or released within 12 months of each other.
2. All song choices for Beatles albums must be justifiable (i.e. personnel, Beatlesque style, subject matter (ex. would the other three object to doing John's Working Class Hero with the swear words and all? or would they feel comfortable doing George's "My Sweet Lord" with the overt religious subject matter?)
3. Even though he is more assertive in introducing songs to John and Paul, George still rarely gets more than three cuts per lp, but an open policy on solo records leads to George being a little more forgiving. Paul is ever prolific and rarely lets a year pass without releasing something. Ringo still only gets 1 or 2 songs per lp but enjoys solo success with a series of hit singles and albums, many written or co-written by George or John.
4. Alternate versions of songs are used only when the alternate is arguably as good as the original and does not interfere with the flow of the album
5. Because most of these albums were released in the pre-CD era an adherence to the general rule of vinyl LPs being under 25 minutes per side is recommended.
Once I had my list of contenders for an album I went into producer's mode and examined each song for flow, context and stylistic precedence. In most cases I skipped over the well known singles and focused on the album tracks as those tended to be more Beatles like.
Despite best efforts, a new Beatles album does not appear every year. Between 1975 and 1980 due to John's inactivity, no album is produced.
Beatles history before the White album in my eyes is unchangeable. In fact, most of what happened before and after 1970 I feel is unchangeable. Many who have played this game take the assumption that the Fabs resolved their differences in 1970 and everything was good and filled with sunshine and rainbows for the next ten years or more. To me, that is not only wishful thinking, it is completely unrealistic based on the events from the time of Brian Epstein's death onward. My theory is that by making one small change at what appears to be a critical point in their career, could have a major effect on what happened several years down the road, ie: the butterfly effect.
Rather than try to reconcile a marriage that has fallen apart, I have chosen to go to where the problems started, The White Album. It has often been said that this album was really the collected works of four individual solo acts that utilized the other three as backing musicians. If we apply this idea to the "What if they released solo albums instead?" question, I believe that the results would be a feeling of relief by the four knowing, that outside projects were OK. Maybe taking enough pressure off the boys that the breakup just never came up and was never even considered.
Up to the time when they stopped touring in 1966, John, Paul, George and Ringo had very little time apart from each other and although after Sgt Pepper, they had more time to themselves, being a Beatle was still a full time job. By the time of the White album I'm sure they were getting a little tired of each other and the predefined roles they had come to play within the band. Although by the end of 1968 John, Paul and George had released solo projects, they were mostly throwaway type things and could only be marginally satisfying. Paul had done the score to the film The Family Way, George did the soundtrack to the film Wonderwall and John did Two Virgins with Yoko. I feel that by letting them express themselves as individuals while still loosely within a band context might have postponed or prevented the breakup altogether.
Beyond that, nothing else is different. John still marries Yoko. Paul still marries Linda. The Beatles still release "Yellow Submarine" as both an album and an animated film. They still film/record "Let It Be" and record "Abbey Road". From there, every few years, instead or along side of solo albums, we get a Beatles album.
In choosing when a post-1970 Beatles album appears I took into consideration several factors such as the availability of material released within a 12 month period and the overall "Beatleness" of the material. I also avoided taking apart key milestones in each Beatle's solo careers such as John's Imagine and Paul's Band on the Run albums. George's All Things Must Pass is a special case seeing that as a triple album (or double album with a bonus disc, however you want to view it), we have plenty of material to still give George a great single disc album. There is still the decision of what to do with the solo album tracks left over after stealing songs for Beatles albums.
All in all, this approach works for me. I'm sure there are many that would disagree with my reasoning but to me it seems the most plausible alternative. I feel that what I am doing is a middle ground to those who try to rewrite history and those who are remixing the music itself. I hope this is as entertaining for you as it is for me, which is why I do it.